Timika, Papua (ANTARA) - State-owned air navigation firm Airnav Indonesia's authority in Sentani, Papua Province, has vowed to lend assistance in the efforts to trace a Twin Otter aircraft that had disappeared since September 18.

The search operation had been conducted over these past three days, but the missing aircraft could not as yet be located, Airnav Indonesia-Sentani Office's General Manager Suwandi informed ANTARA here on Saturday.

The search and rescue operation is assisted by several aircraft taking off from Timika, the capital city of Mimika District, he noted, adding that Papua Province's geographical conditions posed a challenge for the SAR team members.

Related news: Twin Otter aircraft transporting Bulog's rice untraceable in Papua

"We all need to pray for those on board this ill-fated aircraft and their families. May the Almighty God also save the SAR team members and ensure good weather during their search, so that it leads them to find those on board alive," Suwandi stated.

The last contact of the pilot of the Twin Otter aircraft, with registration number PK-CDC, with the Timika airport's air traffic controller might not directly be related to the possible crash site, he noted.

In the meantime, Commander of the Timika-based Yohanes Kapiyau Air Force Base Lt Col Sugeng Sugiharto is of the view that this disappeared aircraft might have crashed into a cliff some 15 miles from Ilaga, Puncak District, or some 42.5 miles from Timika.

"We forecast the aircraft's position at a cliff. The search operation will be focused on a slope of the cliff," Sugiharto stated.

In an endeavor to trace the missing aircraft, the search and rescue team launched at least four sorties, but the thick fog blanket over the targeted areas posed a hindrance to the rescuers' efforts.

Head of the Timika Search and Rescue Agency (SAR) Monce Brury stated that the weather had played truant, thereby impeding efforts to locate the disappeared aircraft, owned by PT Carpediem Air.

Related news: Thick fog blanket in Papua impairs efforts to find aircraft

On Thursday, the search and rescue team had conducted five unsuccessful sorties to locate the Twin Otter aircraft that had gone missing on Wednesday morning.

The search operations involved two aircraft and 13 SAR members, including those from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), Indonesian Air Force, and the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob).

They attempted to trace the missing aircraft until Jila sub-district's area in Mimika District, Brury noted.

The aircraft, carrying onboard nearly 1.6 tons of the State Logistics Agency's (Bulog's) rice, disappeared after take-off from the Moses Kilangain Airport in Timika, Mimika District, en route to Ilaga, the capital of Puncak District in Papua Province. Related news: Twin Otter aircraft still missing: SAR

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Translator: Evarianus S, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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